TMH Living Well: Solutions to heavy periods |

TMH Living Well: Solutions to heavy periods

The Memorial Hospital


Periods are usually not terrible but add in the cramping and backaches you get from heavy bleeding, and they are truly a pain. For women, heavy periods, or menorrhagia, are fairly common, especially for adolescents who recently started getting their periods and for women who are pre-menopausal. In fact, 25 percent of women who are nearing menopause report heavy bleeding. It's thought that an increase in estrogen during these times is often the culprit.

How is heavy bleeding defined?

Your bleeding is deemed heavy if you've experienced some of these occurrences during your period:

• Soaking a pad or tampon every hour for several hours

• Bleeding at night that requires changing a pad or tampon

• Passing large clots

• Bleeding more than seven days

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What causes heavy bleeding?

There are several causes for heavy bleeding and the most common is hormone imbalance. When a woman's body drops an egg, progesterone is released. If an egg is not produced then progesterone is absent, causing an imbalance — a fairly common occurrence in menopause.

Fibroids or benign tumors in the uterus can also cause heavy bleeding—which is more common in women ages 40 to 50. Interestingly, hormone imbalance can increase fibroid growth.

Other causes for heavy bleeding include miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, adenomyosis, IUDs, pelvic inflammatory disease and even more rare, cancer and bleeding disorders.

Treating heavy periods

The heavy bleeding that occurs before menopause will often cease on its own, but it may take years. Pain medicines including ibuprofen and naproxen can help with the cramps that often accompany heavy bleeding.

Hormone therapy — sometimes in the form of birth control pills — can also help balance hormones and flow. If your doctor suspects another cause he or she may recommend a D&C to clean out the lining of the uterus or a hysteroscopy to scope the uterus for fibroids. The scope allows the doctor to not only see fibroids but also remove them along with other growths.

If you have heavy bleeding, your doctor will likely order a blood test to check for anemia, an iron deficiency that can occur from blood loss. Anemia leaves women feeling fatigued, short of breath, weak, pale and sometimes dealing with headaches, dizziness and chest pain.

If you'd like to learn about your options for heavy bleeding, come to The Memorial Hospital's upcoming event with Dr. Scott Ellis, OB-GYN. The Women's Health Series invites local women to come and pose questions to Drs. James Summers and Scott Ellis. Think of it as a series of conversations on women's health. "Solutions to Heavy Bleeding for Women" is at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Downtown Books.

This weekly article with tips on living well is sponsored by The Memorial Hospital at Craig – improving the quality of life for the communities we serve through patient-centered healthcare and service excellence.

If you go

“Small Talk, Big Topics”

5:30 p.m. Wednesday

Downtown Books, 543 Yampa Ave.

The Memorial Hospital is hosting a women’s health series this summer. The first topic is “Solutions to Heavy Bleeding for Women” with Dr. Scott Ellis. Another segment, “Health Screens for Women” was rescheduled for 5:30 p.m. June 16. Light snacks and beverages will be provided. To RSVP and for more information, contact Jennifer Riley at 970-826-3109.